Students Calling Out Colleges Once Again
Once again, students are out protesting against the higher education system in the United States, but this time it’s not over lack of racial diversity on campus. Instead, they’re trying to bring awareness to the issues surrounding high tuition costs and student loan debt.
Ami Schneider was one of many standing outside the Illinois Institute of Art (or AI) this week to protest for-profit colleges. She wore her AI degree around her neck with the word “worthless” painted on it in red paint.
Protesters like Schneider are going to open houses for interested students in order to warn against for-profit institutions. They are attempting to inform parents and potential students of litigation in the works against for-profit colleges. They hope that by passing out flyers at these open houses, people will think twice about the college they plan to attend.
Though protesters have done their homework in calling police to make sure they aren’t breaking any laws, security and other officials are still attempting to challenge the right of the protesters.
Private property is another beast for protests, but with the go-ahead from police, property managers — whose industry raked in $69 billion on its own last year — cannot force them to leave without a law being broken.
The protests are connected to numerous issues, including a lack of debt forgiveness, college fraud, and misrepresentation. Many simply feel cheated by the system, thanks to little to no debt forgiveness being offered after graduation, and this is especially true among for-profits.
“AI is for-profit, not for students,” one of Schneider’s signs reads.
One of the biggest issues, protesters say, is that for-profits are marketing themselves to lower and working-class families as more affordable options than public schools, when this isn’t the case. These colleges are known for having poor quality in their programs and incredibly limited job opportunities for graduating students.
In fact, there was a controversy earlier this year with Corinthian Colleges, who were misrepresenting their job prospects for students. They were fined $30 million by the U.S. Department of Education after it was found that they were counting fast food jobs as “in the student’s field.”
The fine came after an extensive review which revealed 947 misstated placements. The Department of Education stressed that the issue is that students often rely on post-graduation job prospects to choose a school.
Evidence is also being gathered on the financial state of some of the for-profit college graduates, and it isn’t looking good. Most of the increase in student loan defaults have been linked to them.
“In 1999, 29 and 24 percent of for-profit and two-year colleges, both public and private, defaulted within five years, respectively. But in 2009, 47 and 38 percent of borrowers in those categories defaulted within the same time frame,” Think Progress reports.
They also found that 21% of the nontraditional borrowers starting repayment in 2011 defaulted within two years, compared to 8% of the borrowers from traditional educational settings.
The University of Phoenix, known for its online programs, ranked highest for default and only had 1% of its total debt balance repaid last year.